Children begin counting from a fairly early age. There are many TV shows that promote counting, and parents often count aloud with their children. Numbers are everywhere in the world around us, so it is important for children to learn how to count, how to recognize numerals, and how to write them.

**WHAT IS COUNTING?**

Counting for children usually begins with simply saying the numbers in order. Your child will likely be able to say the numbers before understanding what they really represent. They will then learn One-to-One Correspondence where they will associate each number with a corresponding object or picture.

**WHAT IS READING A NUMBER?**

It is now important for your child to learn that each number has a symbol associated with it. Just like a variety of sounds are represented by letters, numbers too have symbols that represent them. Children need to see the numbers and become familiar with their shape and with what they represent. For example, when your child sees the number 8, she should be able to tell you that the name of the number is “8”, and that it represents 8 things.

**WHAT IS WRITING A NUMBER?**

Writing numbers usually comes last in the sequence. Your child can now identify the numbers visually, and she understands how much each number represents. She is now ready to begin printing the number. Give her a paper and pencil, and see which numbers she can print already. Then, concentrate on one number at a time as you teach her how to print them.

**WHAT TO WATCH FOR:**

Counting:

Listen carefully as your child counts aloud. Be sure she doesn’t skip or repeat any numbers.

Reading Numbers:

When she is reading numbers, she may notice that the number 6 and the number 9 look a lot alike. Point out the similarities between these 2 numbers. The numbers 3 and 8 also look very similar.

Writing Numbers:

You can help your child develop good printing habits by encouraging her to print her letters from the top to the bottom.

**TIPS / ACTIVITIES:**

- Count aloud in the car
- Think of a familiar song that you and your child know (ex: Mary Had a Little Lamb, or Baa Baa Black Sheep) and sing the numbers to the tune
- Help your child find numbers on street signs, mailboxes, at the grocery store, and encourage her to name them
- Use magnetic numbers on your fridge, and ask your child to remove the number that you say aloud
- Your child may use a pencil and paper to print the numbers, or she could practice printing numbers with other materials such as sidewalk chalk, dry-erase markers, or bathtub paint.

**RELATED CONCEPTS:**

- One-to-One Correspondence
- Ordinal Numbers
- Place Value

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